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World Cup Champions Germany To Square-off With ‘Fearless’ Mexico

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World Cup champions Germany are keen for a flying start against Mexico on Sunday, June 17, 2018 to make an early statement to their World Cup rivals, but the underdogs have vowed to show no fear.

“We want to send a signal with a victory, that’s our ambition,” Germany coach Joachim Loew told a packed pre-match news conference at Luzhniki Stadium.

Loew said a successful title defence – which only Italy (1934-38) and Brazil (1958-62) have achieved – would be a huge challenge because all major teams such as France, Brazil and Spain have improved since 2014.

And the Mexicans then insisted that while showing huge respect for Germany they have the class to beat them for the very first time in the Group F match.

Germany’s run against El Tri includes their past three World Cup meetings which Germany all won, and a 4-1 triumph at the Confed Cup last year.

“We must control our emotions, stay calm but still play with our heart,” goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa said. “We have to play a perfect match, defending and attacking.”

The Mexicans run into a fully fit German team with all 23 players raring to go, according to Loew.

That includes playmaker Mesut Oezil, who has been nursing injury problems and was at the centre of a controversy around a meeting with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer on his return from a long injury lay-off.

Loew spoke of “the Manuel we all have known” while he did not want to say whether Oezil would start like in all his previous 14 World Cup matches, saying only “he did two extra sessions during the week and is fit and ready to play.”

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Julian Draxler praised the Arsenal playmaker as “our most creative player” who has “technical skills like only few in the world.

“Mesut is cheerful and jokes a lot. He can’t wait for the tournament to start,” Draxler said.

Loew called himself “a fan” of Draxler and revealed to German ZDF television after the news conference that the PSG attacking midfielder will be a starter.

Apart from never losing against Mexico, Germany also aim to continue their strength in World Cup openers, having lost only one of the previous 18, in 1982 against Algeria.

“We did everything in preparation and then performed when it mattered. It is a matter of confidence and individual strength. I hope it continues tomorrow against a very dangerous opponent. It always did us good to start with a win,” Loew said.

Draxler also warned against underestimating Mexico and said he was sure a recent affair around a player party would not affect their opponents on Sunday.

“I don’t think the Mexican party will play a role in the tournament. It was funny to read for us but it won’t be a factor when the tournament starts,” he said.

The confidence of Ochoa and coach Juan Carlos Osorio indicated that the incident had not derailed the Mexicans.

Osorio insisted that Mexico would not change its style but didn’t reveal whether his starting 11 would include veteran Rafael Marquez who is at a record-equalling fifth World Cup.

“We have to play to win and not fear defeat,” Osorio said. “It is a great opportunity for Mexican football to compete head to head with the world champions.”

via dpa-International

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